November is upon us and in short order many of us will gather around tables with family or friends to celebrate our national day of giving thanks. We reflect back on days long past when our ancestors bowed their heads in gratitude for surviving a difficult journey across the big water and rejoicing because they made it through the first growing season in this new world that would become known as the Americas. Their gratitude, their appreciation was for the simple things of life. In 1863, President Lincoln officially declared the 26th of November as a day to celebrate and reflect on the many blessings we have been given.
Over the years the traditional turkey dinner has hung on as the standard for many, yet exchanged for other traditional meals by others. But, it still remains a day to consider all we have to appreciate. My Swedish grandmother would say that we are rich enough when we are thankful for what we have. She was talking about being content and how closely related to happiness it is. The German inventor, Fredrich Koenig spoke of a similar sentiment when he was quoted to have said, “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” Contentment comes from feeling satisfied with what you have whether you have plenty or little. I recently heard of a survey quoted. It asked how much was enough and the response was a consistent, “Twenty percent more than I have now.” How do we define how much is enough when enough is always more than we currently have? How often do we wait for the day when we can have a little more in the hope that having more will finally make us happy. Unfortunately for many, reaching that goal becomes the bench mark for more longing.
It is this longing for more—for bigger and better, that leads some couples to my office. Two individuals working so hard to have enough only to reach that goal and enough is no longer adequate. Soon the “stuff” they work so hard to acquire becomes more valuable than their relationship and then their relationship begins to suffer. Could there be some wisdom in my Grandmother’s words that fits relationships too? When you are thankful for what you have you are rich enough. Take some time over this month to look at all you have and ask yourself if you have expressed a sense of gratitude –not just for your “stuff” but for your loved ones as well. Maybe you too could learn to be content. Throw in a little joy once in awhile and you just might have the formula for real love.